Refugios Salkantay: Machu Picchu Adventure Tour: Trek the Salkantay

Machu Picchu Adventure Tour: Trek the Salkantay

Cusco, Peru

Refugios Salkantay

Community-based cooperative

4 days/3 nights
From$225 USDPer person

100% of host revenue is invested back into the local community

Refugios Salkantay is a team project comprised of local families in tight collaboration, communication, understanding, and mutual support, working to provide authentic, mutually beneficial travel experiences.

Tour Highlights

  • Take an alternative trip to Machu Picchu and connect with families in the Peruvian mountains.
  • Drink and eat locally-sourced coca mate and chocolate.
  • Hike through the beautiful Salkantay Mountains and visit Machu Picchu.

Tour revenue will be invested in supporting and advocating for local families.

Tour Details

  • Frequency

    Any day by appointment

  • Start Time

    6-6:30 AM

  • Duration

    4 days/3 nights

  • Good For


  • Languages


  • Difficulty

    Hard (over 6 miles/ 9 km walking distance, intense physical effort)

  • Clothing & Equipment

    Backpack, Headlamp/ flashlight, Hiking boots, Mosquito repellent, Rain gear, Sunglasses, Sunscreen lotion, Warm clothes

  • Tour Participants

    1 to 12

Tour Description

Day 1:
The organization will pick you up from your hotel in Cusco between 6 and 6:30 AM to begin your expedition on the Salkantay Trail, on your way to Machu Picchu, stopping beforehand in Mollepata. One of the organization’s employees, an experienced local, will meet you in “La Casona de Mechita,” a small tourist restaurant, and provide you with information about your upcoming hike, distributing water and small snacks. You will then be driven to Challacancha and hike for about two hours to the Soraypampa refuge. Sip on mate made from coca leaves, a traditional remedy to altitude sickness. Settle into your rooms in Soraypampa, which is equipped with comfortable bedrooms, complete bathrooms, and hot showers in rooms with queen beds or rooms with two or three single beds. Refugios Salkantay offers savory, nutritious, local food and welcomes vegetarians. After a hearty meal, you will join the organization on an acclimating hike from the hostel to Humantay Lake. Take in the breathtaking views of Mount Salkantay. Imagine how the Incans would have looked up in awe at this sacred mountain. The hike, which should take, in the first part, three hours from start to finish, will prepare you for the more adventurous second day. After finishing this exciting first day, return to the hostel for a cocktail and deliciously prepared dinner.

Day 2:
Hopefully you had a good night’s rest, because this is the big day! Wake up with coca mate at 5 or 5:30 am and enjoy a delicious breakfast, served by the members of the organization and their families. Take a lunch to go, a small snack, some sublime, local chocolate, and a large bottle of water. A volunteer from the community will put your personal belongings on a horse and bring them to the destination spot, so the climb will be less burdensome. The first hour is easy as the elevation increases slowly along the valley. Keep your head up and consume the amazing views at the top of Salkantay, the second highest peak in the Sacred Valley. Zigzag up the rest of the trail to the highest point of the hike, about 4700 meters above sea level. The summit should take 3 to 4 hours before a gradual descent. Take a rocky path down for 2 hours before reaching Huayracmachay. A local family will share their roof for lunch and hot mate or coffee. Enjoy all you can eat and share warm conversations with your hosts!

In the afternoon, prepare to leave the dry landscape of the highlands and enter the higher region of the Amazon jungle, called “the woods of clouds”. You will have a 3 hour hike on a wide path of dense forest. Marvel at the gorgeous hills, decorated with expansive landscapes and a great variety of wildlife and native plants. The forest for much of the year is hot or has a mild temperature. Upon completing this magnificent hike, you will arrive at Chaway, where private transportation awaits to travel by car for 40 minutes until you reach Lucmamamba. You will be welcomed by a local family who will take you to your rooms with a private bath and hot shower. Rest from your challenging hike and enjoy a nourishing dinner. The Refuge of Lucmabanba is found within the Pure Natural Environment surrounded by plantations of coffee, bananas and many more plants. Take in the sights and smells of this agricultural paradise before your third day.

Day 3:
After an early breakfast, the local family will show you a well-cleared trail and you will have the opportunity to enjoy a small part of the famous Inca Path. After an upward climb of 2 hours, with impressive views of the Santa Teresa Valley, you will reach the Inca Llactapata just ahead of Machu Picchu. This will be the first archaeological zone that you’ll see from the lost city of the Incas. Rest for a few minutes and absorb the ancient beauty. You will not only be able to see the ruins of Machu Picchu from there, but also Hyaynapicchu and the mountain of Machu Picchu. After the ruins of Llactapata, continue your hike downward for 2 hours. On this hike, you will always have views of Machu Picchu, so keep your head up and experience this incredible place like its ancient peoples once did. Later, you will reach the Hidroelectrica train station, where you will find several restaurants available to you. Afterward, continue for 3 hours by rail until you reach the village of Aguas Calientes, where you’ll be greeted by hot springs, hotels, and restaurants. Settle in for the evening and prepare for your trip to Machu Picchu the following morning! Those wishing to visit Machu Picchu, Huaynapicchu, or the mountain are highly encouraged to purchase tickets in advance.

Day 4:
Wake up bright and early to visit the wonder of Machu Picchu. The control point is open from 6 am until 5 pm and you can go up in a bus (US$24). You can spend some time at Aguas Caliente and purchase your tickets or you can also go up by foot, which will take you about 1 hour and 30 minutes. You need to buy your entrance ticket before departing on your trek so make sure to budget time in your morning schedule for that. Once you are in Machu Picchu, stroll through the city and await the sunrise to take in the most picturesque views of Machu Picchu. Explore the sacred city and take in the natural views around you. When you're ready, you can take the bus back to Aguas Calientes before returning by train and bus to Ollantaytambo and Cusco (return transportation not included in tour price).

3 Visitor Reviews

  • March 12, 2017

    Trek was great.

  • November 16, 2016

    The people involved in our house to house trekking were wonderful examples of what 'authentic travel' aspires to be. Flor, who's organized the whole circuit has so much energy and passion for her region. The quantity of instructions were just enough and not too much to overwhelm you, and kept an air of mystery about what was to come. Marino, Edwin his son, and Tioflora's family were all wonderfully engaging and seemed to really enjoy having our company. It was truly a physical challenge, but I appreciated the test hike which actually led one of our 4 group members to opt out of the hike, something that would have been much more difficult to arrange without their careful planning. So really the only negative which they are well aware of and working on is the lack of heating in the first camp, but it will soon be remedied and it was well worth it! (and still a big upgrade from the campsite travelers)

  • August 27, 2015

    Meeting the family running this project was very interesting and enjoyable. No other agency can offer this experience. I also enjoyed eating typical dishes of the area rather than the more international food companies offer groups leading the Salkantay route.

How To Get There

The organization will pick you up from your hotel in Cusco.

More About Refugios Salkantay


To advocate for and support local families, joined together to work as authentic tour operators.

Main Programs

  • English Language Classes

  • Scholarship Program